To change your life, you have to change your life.

To change your life, you have to change your life.

I think it’s fair to say I’ve been in some form of existential crisis since childhood. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been consumed by questions about my place in this World and what I should do with my life. In the past, I always sought solace in a promise to myself that things will be better next week, next month, or next year. But there’s only so many times you can say mañana before it starts to mean never; and, as time started to hammer home its fatal inevitability through physical decline, I found I could no longer salve my mental angst with stories of a better tomorrow. So, on the brink of an alcohol fuelled self destruction, and catalysed by two key events: what should have been a dream job souring unfeasibly quickly; and an extremely stressful, ill fated relationship ending, I set out to find an answer to my existence.

The journey took me to the familiar territory of my upbringing breeding fear of failure and a desire for perfectionism. Yet, where previous exploration had stopped here, this time I found a means to keep going. Peeling back layer upon layer of my psyche, I found a tangled undergrowth of self made rules, each more ridiculous than the last, sustaining a complex maze of beliefs about how things should be. As I cut through these rules and beliefs, and shone a light into the dark places of my head, I found ego. I found a need for control. I found inauthenticity. This changed the game: extrinsic excuses were replaced by intrinsic reasons.

While I was unsurprised to find the source of discontent within me, it was still a difficult place to find myself. It wasn’t easy to accept years of dissatisfaction, anxiety, stress and depression were all of my own making. Yet, at the same time, it has been surprisingly easy to move forward from here. Once I became aware of my ego’s role in my angst, I could look for it and when I caught it is easy to challenge and dismiss. When I feel the bubble of emotion rising I can ask myself, ‘why do I feel this way?’ More often than not, the answer is my ego feels threatened, undermined, fearful or powerless. From there, I always find my true self to be unperturbed. The emotion passes. The ego silences. No longer is there a voice telling me how things should be. No longer is there a fear of not being good enough. No longer am I consumed by comparing and ranking myself against real and imaginary others. The void this negativity occupied has to be filled. I find, having previously been pushed down by the egoic mind, my true passions and beliefs are flourishing here, sparking new possibilities.

It is through the silencing of the ego, I have found a path to understanding my existence.

This wasn’t easy, it wasn’t a light bulb moment. Not only have I had to accept the emotional cost of admitting I was not the person I thought, and that the person I was, is not a person I particularly liked. It has also been a financially and temporally expensive slog to get this place. Years of therapy; hundreds of books; thousands of hours of podcasts; endless self experimentation; meditation of all forms; not to mention the self sabotage along the way. Don’t mistake me, it was worth every ounce of effort and I would take this cost a million times over to get to where I find myself today.

There were, and there will continue to be, countless setbacks and missteps, because this isn’t the end of a journey. All that has happened is I have managed to make my way to the start.

While I’m no closer to knowing to what I’m going to do, the path ahead looks clearer than before. I now find myself optimistic, positive and excited to explore what it means to be me. There is no end goal, nor do I intend to define one: the only objective is to explore the limits of my own potential through an ethical, sustainable and authentic life. There are going to be changes. I know what some of these changes will be and others are still unknown. Some of the changes will be expected and others will be a surprise. Some are going to be a subtle shift, while others will make my previous choices seem hypocritical.

I’ve written this account for a few reasons: firstly to solidify and work through my thoughts, and secondly to establish some accountability. I would also like to show people you can always change, it’s never too late to follow your dream, or even to start to look for it. I also admit there is an element of ego in writing this; I’ve not found Satori yet, my ego is still there chuntering away and it’s had a hard time of late, so chuck it a bone with a like or nice comment. Finally, writing this piece is to serve notice on negativity: one of the first changes I am making is to cut out negativity. I welcome challenge and criticism, but if all you can offer is judgement you will be removed from my life with extreme prejudice.

Chaos

The self destruct button: when everything is in its place and things are going just the way they should, when life is horrendously monotonous, the mind shuts down. Disengage. Re-engagement only takes a press of that button and the unleashing of chaos.

I don’t know if everyone has that button. When it’s pressed life becomes a race across a collapsing bridge, every time a step finds something to push off the rush is indescribable. Partly because running forward when you should be falling, denying the odds and racing along the razor’s edge, is the ultimate rush. Partly because you know, sooner or later, a step will find nothing, and it all comes crashing down into the ruins of chaos, and that anticipation of oblivion is in itself is a rush. Everything becomes instinctual, fuelled by adrenaline and cortisol, the mask rips off and, for better or for worse, reality. Rush upon rush, life and reality, but at the expense of an unsustainable sprint down the face of a wave of chaos.

A question on deities

As a precocious and pretentious teenager, to prove a point about atheism, I once stood in the middle of a crossroads, in a thunderstorm, and called on God to smite me down and prove his existence. While God didn’t strike me down, I have come, over the years, to doubt my belief in atheism. Could it be there really is a divine being, somewhat akin to Bill Hicks’s prankster God, who, rather than than tricking us into believing in evolution by planting dinosaur bones with St Peter, is cutting about making my life a series of unfortunate coincidences and defeats snatched from the jaws of victory?

I almost respect his comedic vindictiveness.

The philosophical sound of silence

In so much as sound is the mechanical wave produced by an oscillation of pressure, on the infinitesimal scale, there is no silence; at least in the experiential sense.

Consider the theoretical vacuum, an absolute vacuum of complete emptiness. Silence exists here, but the moment we are introduced silence only exists where we are not; where we are introduced, we bring our inherent non-silence, the intrinsic oscillations of the functions of the living body. The absolute vacuum has no content, it has no media to transmit the sound wave caused by the oscillations of life; any sound dies on the boundary of nothingness. Our body, even when contained within the vacuum, remains something, a medium, or at least a collection of media, to transmit the oscillations; our skeletal structure transmits the waves by means of bone conduction.

It may be the amplitude of these bone-conducted waves is damped such that they do not disturb the auditory system sufficiently to generate a neural action potential; nevertheless there will be an infinitesimal disruption to any equilibrium of the system, there will be, on some level, a mechanical impact upon our being. Alternatively it may be that the frequency of the wave is such that the brain choses not to perceive it as a sound; but even at this level the mental differentiation requires cognitive processing, albeit non-conscious, to determine how the wave should be perceived. Analogous with visible and non-visible light, the brain differentiates between audible and non-audible oscillations through the mental construct of hearing. Evolution, or God, or intelligent design set the brain such that low-level oscillations are not perceived as sounds, but these settings are arbitrary and the absence of conscious perception does not constitute silence. The act of not hearing a sound does not negate its existence. The silence we think we experience is a charade, a manifestation of reality foisted upon us by the brain.

Life is intrinsically non-silent and the act of living precludes the experience of silence.

Dancing with the reptiles of fear

This is a story about reptiles. Actually it’s a story about reptiles and dancing, or rather dancing with reptiles. Yes, dancing with reptiles.

David Icke is right; there are reptiles everywhere. Reptiles of fear standing ten feet tall with a tail half as long again; insidious, invisible reptiles riding a black Cerberus across our shoulders while they whisper a siren song into our ear; thousands of reptiles looking just like us as they pass by on the street, sneering with conservative disgust; friendly reptiles celebrating mediocrity and handing another bottle of self destruct. There are reptiles everywhere, with endless different guises, all with an identical desire to keep a boot on the throat of life. If you don’t stand too tall, if you stay in your box, no rage against the dying of light, no kicking against the pricks they’ll let you be. Anything else, dare to dare, and they will smite you down with scaly green anger and a terrible, tail wielding fury.

But who wants to stay in a box? That way lays existential bad faith, chained by conformity to Plato’s cave.

You can rise up and fight, but it would be foolhardy to face them in all out assault. You might well win the fight, but there are so many of them you’ll have to pour everything into it just to survive; and then you’re not even going to have the energy to stand in victory, foot atop your pile of reptile carcasses with bicep flexed. No, there’s more to the game than the defeat of reptiles. It’s about succeeding in whatever they’re trying to stop you doing, avoiding the boot and breathing life. Escape and evade, subterfuge and subtlety, think of Odysseus not Heracles. Lull them, trick them, misdirect them; this is the dance. Pirouette away or hold them close and waltz them out of your present. Like a reptilian manifestation of McGoohan’s ball, they will always be there but they don’t always have to be here!

It’s the Kobayashi Maru; you win by cheating the game to suit your reality. Enjoy the ensemble piece; playing their game by your rules. Embrace the solo, this is your time to shine and break out of the cave screaming your incandescent insights. You don’t win by fighting until they concede, you win by pointing them in one direction while you run off in the other and do whatever the hell you want. You run the race, you write the book, you carve your reality into this life.

Don’t let the slimy bastards grind you down.